Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Year's Blessings In Review

I have so many things to be thankful for. Family and friends who love me. A job that pays my bills. I am fairly healthy (excluding diabetes, of course). Overall, I don't have too much to complain about.
One area which I've never, ever been quite about being thankful for is being a member of the D-OC. This community is amazing. I know this isn't a surprise to any of you, but I wanted to point it out again. And mention just a few of the specific blessings that I received from the D-OC this year.

-I already posted about the awesome surprise I received from Colleen who blogs over at Meanderings. Such fun and so sweet!

-Because I didn't ask permission from the person, I won't mention a name, but when everyone was planning to go to Cali for the Ninjabetic Celebration, I was also trying to find a way to go. One of the members of the D-OC actually contacted me and offered me a place to stay if I needed, so I wouldn't have to pay hotel fees. It turned out that the plane ticket alone was way more than I could afford, but the thoughtfulness of this person meant more to me than they will every know (unless they read this blog post of course. ;) ).

-Then there is Brandi, who blogs at Wife, Mommy, Student but whom I know better from her Twitter account. She is a wonderful member of the D-OC and a sweetheart through and through. When I wrote a post about the price of my glucagon going up, she contacted me and sent me an extra glucagon pen that she had. She expected nothing in return and just did it to be help me out.

-Then, when my meter disappeared into the wild blue yonder, Karen (whom I feel so blessed to call my friend) over at Bitter-sweet Diabetes sent me an e-mail to let me know that she had a spare Ultra Link and offered to send to to me. While I could have gotten a prescription pretty easily, it saved me the co-pays that I would have undoubtedly had to have paid. AND when she sent the meter, she sent me this totally adorable cupcake that she knitted herself! Isn't she talented?

-Then, Kelly over at Diabetesaliciousness, had a great contest that gave away a set of PJs from PJs for the Cure. And I won! If you haven't checked these out, I highly recommend it. They are really well made and very comfortable. And if I had the money to buy a couple of more pairs of them, I would.

-Also, there have been e-mails, and facebook messages, and twitter messages this year that are too many to name. Messages that have given me hope when I was sad and made me laugh when I was frustrated, and made me feel like I have a whole 'nother family.

So, I say to you, D-OC, thank you for a year full of countless blessings. I look forward to 2011. :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Questions With No Answers

During the peak holiday season, I always have a hard time controlling my blood sugar. It's too high, it's too low. I over correct, I under bolus. It's a never ending roller-coaster. But, usually, I manage to get back into the swing of things pretty quickly. And I have at least some decent blood sugar times.
Christmas Day and the two days after Christmas were a nightmare. I'm not sure how today is going to turn out yet. I'm hoping for a return to normal. But I have basically been chasing highs continually for the past 72 hours. After a daily insulin total of over 60 units (I usually take around 45) I'd had enough. Yesterday I turned my basal up to 120%. It helped. but still wasn't perfect.

The question is WHY?? Is it the lack of exercise due to being snowed in? The random snacking? Am I getting sick? I'm not sure. But I don't like it. I don't like not knowing. I hate being out of control (I'm a tiny bit of a control freak).

Regardless, I did a site change this morning and hopefully that will take care of everything. If not, I may lose my mind.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Dear Santa,

Dear Santa,

I’ve noticed that other people asked you for a cure for diabetes this year for Christmas. As much as I would like a cure for diabetes (this year or next), I’ll leave the curing up to God. Instead, I’m asking you for next year’s Christmas present right now.

It’s kind of technical and doesn’t really exist yet, so I figured I’d better give you and your elves plenty of time to get it together and perfected (and approved by the FDA, of course).

Santa, I’d like the perfect insulin pump/CGMS system. Yup, perfect. At least perfect for me. I have a great system, but there are other systems that have things that I like. So instead of switching systems, I just want you to invent your own.

Here are some of the things that I’d like the new pump/CGMS to include:

1.) Interchangeable CGMS. Santa, I’d like to have the option of which CGMS to use. I know that some CGMS works better for different people. So, I’d like the option to try them all and chose what was best for me…without having to change my pump

2.) I’d like the CGMS to read to my pump (like my current MiniMed system) complete with

alarms and warnings, but I’d also like it to read to a second PDM that is also my blood sugar meter. (kind of a mix between the Animas Ping and the PDM for the OmniPod).

3.) I’d like to be able to operate my insulin pump from the aforementioned PDM/meter in the even that I want to wear a dress and don’t have easy access to my insulin pump screen and buttons.

4.) I’d also like the sensor for the CGMS to be FDA approved for 7 days, instead of my current 3 day approval for MiniMed’s CGMS.

5.) I’d like the CGMS to be accurate more often than it is. Instead of a 70% – 75% accuracy, I’d like to see it up around 90%.

6.) I’d like the meter to be as accurate as blood testing in a lab. The “small” differences in readings can mean a big deal in accurate treatment of a low or a high. It would help to have more accurate readings so that my care could be better.

7.) I’d like the alarms on the pump and the PDM/meter to have adjustable volume levels. Sometimes my current system just isn’t loud enough when it’s under 3 blankets and I’m asleep. Having a separate PDM on the night stand might help, but also, having louder alarms would be great because it would wake me up much easier than my currently alarms on my CGMS/pump.

And Santa, I’m going to leave my comment section open so that my other friends in the D-OC can add in their own updates to make the perfect pump/CGMS system. We deserve perfect if for no other reason than we have to work so hard because our bodies aren’t perfect.

Thanks Santa!

Cara and the rest of the D-OC

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Because I've Lost My Mind...

Because I've lost my mind...or perhaps hit my head on something and had the sense knocked OUT of me, instead of into me, I've started a second blog. Yes, I can hear the crickets in the room as you stare in silenced astonishment at this screen. I'll answer you're unasked question: Yes, I've gone crazy.

But I figured that most of my D-OC people don't exactly come to my blog looking for theatre news and reviews. So I figured I should start a second blog that will focus solely on theatre. If you happen to be one of the D-OC who also shares my love for theatre, you can check out my new blog (which is MAJORLY still under construction!) at Country Girl/Theatre Geek.

My first post is up and it's kind of a rant. But I hope you enjoy it anyhow.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Small Town Disadvantages

Most of you know I live in a really small town. The closest endo to me is almost an hour away. I travel over 2 hours to get to my current endo. In my town there are basically no specialists; only general practitioners.

Being in a small town can had it's advantages. But when it comes to having diabetes, it can be a huge disadvantage. I have heard from people in my town more times than I'd care to admit, being diagnosed with diabetes and being offered no follow up support at all. Mostly the "change your diet/take this pill/test once a day" stuff. That in and of itself is very frustrating for me. These people have no diabetes education whatsoever and are left with no answers and no questions to ask (because they don't even know WHAT to ask).

Several days ago I ran into a girl that I used to know when I was in school. She was diagnosed by a local doctor about 5 years ago as a diabetic. When I asked her what type she said that they told her she was type 1. And that they had first put her on Novolog 70/30. When she complained to her general practitioner that her blood sugars were all out of whack, instead of changing her medicine, he simply upped her dosage of 70/30.

Due to health reasons (among other things), she lost her job and hasn't been able to work because of wildly swinging blood sugars. She's frustrated and at the end of her rope. She finally went to a different doctor in a different town and that doctor was smart enough to get her on Lantus and Novolog and refer her to an endo. She's still waiting on her appointment now.

When I say that she was given no diabetes education, I mean NONE. She's on a sliding scale and has no idea how to count carbs. She's basically on an exchange system.

I tried to refer her to the D-OC, but she doesn't have internet and has very limited resources. I did suggest that she go to the public library and do some of her own research though.

This incompetance of medical professionals frustrates me to no end. I don't understand how or WHY a general practitioner wouldn't know that 70/30 insulin is not appropriate for a type 1 diabetic or refer them to some basic diabetes education classes.

How do we fix this problem? How do we get help to people in rural areas? I could teach her things like carb counting and insulin to carb ratios, but I'm not a medical professional. She needs more help than I could even begin to give her. I know there is a lack of diabetes education classes in my town. I know there's a lack of general knowledge by medical professionals in my town. But how do I fix it??

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Beauty

There are so many things I love about this time of year. I love snow (when it doesn't interfere with my plans!). I love family gatherings. I love buying presents for people. I love giving and receiving Christmas cards. I love seeing children get excited about Santa and Christmas break.

Sure, there are totally annoying parts about Christmas, like feeling obligated to buy presents for people you don't know well or don't like, and dealing with the family drama that seems to come around the holidays when we are forced to spending time with family we don't normally see. There's the commercialization of the holidays that I think is a total travesty.

But overall, Christmas means so much to me. Christmas takes me back to the roots of my Christian faith. Christmas is the day that God sent His Son, my Saviour, into the world to be an eternal atonement for my sins. Christmas celebrates the start of a journey that would end in my ability to have a way to Heaven.

I think my favorite part of Christmas is the abundance of praise music that fills our ears. In all other times of the year, music that showers Him with praise is rare to hear in a secular world. But around Christmas, we hear songs like Jingle Bells and Santa Clause is Coming to Town...and right in between them, and on either side we hear O Holy Night, and Go Tell it on the Mountain. We hear Hark! The Herald Angles Sing and Silent Night.

Many people simply look at these songs at Christmas songs. I look at them for what they are: Praise. Praise to God. Praise to His Son. And a chance for me to sing praise music in public without people looking at me like I've lost my mind.

So in celebration of Christmas and the meaning I hold deep in my heart for my favorite holiday, I wanted to share my favorite Christmas song.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Driving Without a Map

When I first became interested in CGMS, my doctor at the time explained it to me in interesting terms. He said that testing your blood sugar gives you a picture of that exact moment in time. The down side is that you are unsure if your blood sugar is rising or falling. He said, "You wouldn't drive a car if you only saw pictures of the road, right?"

CGMS has been very good for me and my diabetes care. So much so that I fought insurance for it, I've dealt with the "negatives" of CGMS (i.e. long needles, some inaccuracy, extra expense), and in doing those things, I fully believe I have much better control over my diabetes.

Since starting CGMS, I've not gone more than a day or two without CGMS. I don't like to be without it. In a sense, I've become dependant on the knowledge it provides me. I've gotten used to listening for "high" and "low" alarms.

In the past couple of weeks I notice something... I screwed up and forgot to reorder sensors. I notice when I pulled my next to last one out of the box. Of course, I immediately called to reorder, but once again insurance had to give an approval. I thought it had been taken care of last go around, but apparently the approval that the insurance gave last time was for a one time order. So, approval had to be sought again.

Since I get about a week out of a sensor, I wasn't too worried about it, but I ended up not hearing anything about my approval from MiniMed or the insurance. My second to last sensor was due to come out last weekend. The timing was really kind of perfect. I was sick. And while that would seem like a bad time to be without a sensor, it really isn't. I find that the medicine usually makes the accuracy even worse than normal. And when I'm sick my blood sugar runs a little high anyway, so I don't have to worry about those pesky lows.

Luckily, as I'm getting better, I contacted MiniMed and found out that they shipped my order of sensors on Friday and they should be arriving today. I'll be putting my last sensor in this morning and I'll be feeling much better knowing that I have more than random snapshots of my blood sugar levels. I'll have a map to help me out.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New Patient

I have had the same General Practitioner for the past 15 or so years. I loved him. I rarely went in because I'm rarely sick, but he's been straight with me every time I've needed him to be. I credit him with me getting my diabetes life back in order.
December 1st his office closed. He has moved into a different kind of care and is no longer going to have an office. I didn't think a whole lot about it because I figured I'd go pick up my records and switch doctors sometime after the new year.

I'm never sick. I've not had more than a cold in almost 3 years. But this weekend I got hit hard. Bronchitis and a fever got me. I knew I needed to see a doctor, so I went into work for long enough to reschedule my appointments at work and started calling around town.

Every single office that I called said the same thing: It would be 1 to 2 weeks for a new patient. I'm sick. I need care now.

On my insurance, my ER co-pay is $75 and the closest walk-in or urgent care clinic is almost an hour away and it was snowing all day. So I opted to call the new doctor in town. I really didn't want to go to him (for reasons I won't discuss online) but I was desperate.

Anyway, I went in and ended up with a shot and some anti-biotics. I'm already feeling better, though still not great. And let me tell you, shots HURT! My hip is still sore. And despite the fact that I have good health insurance, the office requires all new patients to pay $50. I don't pay co-pays. I only pay 20%. But yet I had to pay $50 upfront.

My annoyance with the day, however, is that no one would see me without a wait time of several weeks. I wasn't sick enough to go to the emergency room. I'm not a "doctor hopper". I wasn't wanting pain pills or other narcotics. But everyone said "one to two weeks".

How is that fair to people who are honestly sick? People like me, who's PCP has left town or the office has closed. Or people who are new to an area and haven't had a chance to get a new doctor yet? How is that good medical care?